The Denver Broncos have a lot of question marks heading into 2010, but they are loaded with talent too. The question becomes, how does coach Josh McDaniels manage that talent in his second season?
With top wide receiver Brandon Marshall gone to the Miami Dolphins, who will become the team's number one receiver. Some believe Eddie Royal will ascend to that role, while others are banking on rookie stud Demaryius Thomas. Also in the mix are fellow rookie Eric Decker and veteran Jabar Gaffney.
Our own Ray Tannock believes Royal and Thomas will lead the way with Decker in the slot up the middle, leaving the aging Gaffney out of the mix for the most part. I do like Royal to have a solid season, and I'm still skeptical about Thomas as a rookie breakout, but the one player I do believe in is Jabar Gaffney.
I think there are several reasons why Gaffney is a lock as a 2010 fantasy football sleeper candidate.
Jabar Gaffney, WR – Denver Broncos
ADP: 250th – 72nd WR selected*
* 7/8/10: Since initially writing this article Gaffney has climbed to 236th, and 69th.
By the numbers
Player G GS Target Receptions Ratio Yards TD Jabar Gaffney 16 7 87 54 62% 732 2 Eddie Royal 14 12 79 37 47% 345 0
After a breakout rookie campaign, everyone had Royal pegged as a monster fantasy pick in 2009. Boy did he disappoint. Granted losing Jay Cutler hurt his numbers, but that didn't seem to slow Brandon Marshall down. Royal, at best should fall between his rookie and sophomore numbers. That's nothing to write home about.
- Gaffney on the other had as the numbers above show, outperformed Royal. He started 5 less games but had eight more targets, and more important, he turned over 60% of those into receptions compared to Royal's sub .500 stats. Gaffney more than doubled Royal's yardage and had two TDs to Eddie's goose egg.
- Nobody caught more than Gaffney's 21 receptions or picked up more than his 282 receiving yards over the final two weeks of last season.
- Gaffney wants to be the team's go to guy. He wants to be #1 in Denver. When asked about this desire to take last season's final two weeks and propel himself into the team's #1 receiver role Gaffney replied;
"Definitely. It just shows that much more confidence from the coaches and with my teammates. I always felt confident in myself that I can go out there and get the job done. Now I've been given the chance and hopefully I'll just make more plays as more balls come my way."
Summary: There are not many teams where a third or fourth WR have the chance to step up and be the team's #1 guy, but in Denver, Gaffney has the opportunity, the desire, and the backing of his coaches, including Josh McDaniels who has all but called Gaffney the team's starting wideout. So while people are leaping on Thomas and to a lesser extent, Royal, take a chance on Gaffney. He's being drafted on average 5 picks later than his teammate Tim Tebow who won't even play this season, and Terrell Owens, who is unemployed at the moment. Gaffney may well be the steal of your fantasy draft.
ADP taken from our friends at MyFantasyLeague.com